We have walked and walked and walked. Remarkably, the children have even looked up on occasion!
We have seen Buckingham Palace, Queen Victoria’s Monument, Nelsons Column, the Ritz, Downing Street, The London Eye, the Shard, the Cenotaph, the huge victorian lanterns at Covent Garden and the Rose-Ringed Parakeets in Kensington Palace Gardens. We have experienced the emotional roller coaster of a West End show, the mayhem of the Imagine Children’s Festival at the Southbank Centre, and the tranquility of Constable’s ‘Hay Wain’ at the National Gallery. Yes, my friends, we have been to London.
The children are now of an age where activities are not determined by the amount of time until they next need to eat (my handbag size has even decreased thanks to not having to carry snacks and wipes) and this extra flexibility (along with the reduced baggage) brings with it spontaneity. It is LUSH. I think that the need to plan every minute of every day has been one of the main reasons why it took me a while to enjoy being a mother. I am naturally a leave-it-til-the-last-minute type of person, I don’t plan too much in advance, I let life happen and have a panic along the way. Now, some of that freedom is returning to life and it is wonderful.
I think I may have over done it a fraction though – on day 3 of our #LoveLondon tour the heel on T’s boot fell off and since returning home J and I have been laid low with mild flu. However, our four days in the Capital were brilliant so if you are planning a trip here are our recommendations, the best part is that most of them are free…
Just take time out, take a picnic, take a camera, take a book, just take some time to go for a walk and breathe in some (vaguely) unpolluted air in this green oasis. On our hour in the park we saw Kensington Palace, the Royal Albert Hall, the Albert Memorial, the Peter Pan Statue and the Queens Temple. We even saw a flying squirrel (well really it was a jumping squirrel doing a very good impression of a flying one) and more avian wildlife than we could recognise (although we have since identified a Grey Heron and Rose-Ringed Parakeets among the usual Robins, Crows and Blackbirds). We would also advise calling into the…
This has the best hand washing facilities we have ever encountered (congratulations Mr Dyson) and currently has an exhibition by Michael Craig-Martin (Lightbulb) which we all thoroughly enjoyed. Rather amusing to find that the children were confused by the sight of a canvas carrying the image of a cassette (“Oh, oh, I know what that is, it’s like a cd isn’t it?” yep just like it – stretched tape wrecking an overplayed album, mix tapes compiled over days and the precision timing required for recording the top 40 off the radio without the DJ’s voice overs or a door slam).
Two years ago T was learning about Van Gogh at school and she fell in love with his Sunflowers. This week (and once we had got to the front of the crowd for our few minutes of observation and contemplation) we saw it in the flesh at the National Gallery. I say in the flesh because when you see it the petals seem to breathe, sighing over the vase. The colours are luminescent and the yellows and golds reflect light and life into the room. The National Gallery is home to numerous masterpieces and our favourites, apart from the Van Gogh, were those by Degas, Turner, Constable and Stubbs. Our visit was time limited and if I went again I would take a sketch book for the children and encourage them to create their own versions of our favourites, that way I’d be able to sit and enjoy the artistic wizardry for a little longer.
Situated at the foot of the London Eye and a short stroll from the Southbank Centre, and a slightly longer stroll from the Tate Modern, the Jubilee Gardens is a delightful space and with the fantastic London Eye in the background it is the first Playground With a View that we have enjoyed since returning to the UK (if you know of any others, in the UK or beyond please share).
Southbank Centre – Imagine Children’s Festival
Sadly, thanks to my mild flu, I haven’t posted this before the conclusion of the Imagine Children’s Festival at the Southbank Centre as it only ran between the 10th and 21st February 2016. However we went on what was possibly one of the busiest days (the Sunday) and yet, despite the hoards of children, which I guess was only to be expected, we had a lovely time. Musical theatre, art installations based on the BFG and Matilda, face painting, story boats and a massive chalkboard entertained us. Duck fat chips, sausage rolls and smoothies sustained us. Whilst most of the Festival was free there were workshops, ‘in conversations’ and a range additional paid for performances to choose from. With J’s delight in all things Dahl I booked tickets for ‘The Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl’ which is running until 3rd July 2016. It was a delightful, interactive, walk through Dahl’s life and works. As we had already visited the Roald Dahl Museum in Great Missenden (Phizz-Whizzing) I was fearful that it would be repetitive and could be a waste of our time and money. Thankfully it was neither. It was a wonderful hour with a fantastic lady hosting the journey and one which I heartily recommend to all. My only hope is that they transfer the installations to the Dahl Museum once they finish with them in July (alternatively I’d be more than willing to take a few items!).
Charlie and The Chocolate Factory
We managed to get tickets for Charlie and The Chocolate Factory at the Royal Theatre Drury Lane, and this was a major treat considering that the Grand Circle tickets were £56 each! Regular readers of the LifeofRyrie will know that I do enjoy a good musical (By Jove She’s Got It) and that I get a bit emotional at sharing these experiences with my children. Was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory worth the £230 we spent? Hmmm, yes and no. It was superb but was it as good as Mary Poppins or Matilda? The children loved it and there were some excellent parts in it, wonderful acting, fantastic set etc etc but… sadly, I have to say that I was not convinced.
Having spent a fantastic day at the Natural History Museum last summer I had high hopes for a similar experience at the Science Museum. If you are interested in flight, communications, space, or just a boiling kettle, then there is sure to be something to grab your attention at the Science Museum. The children loved the ‘Engineer your Future’ level (probably because it consisted of several over-sized iPads to play a series of games on) whilst I really enjoyed the ‘Information Age’. With free entry, and free workshops, the Science Museum should be on everyones list for a kids day out.
During our trip to London I took lots of photos and here are just a few that I thought it would be worth sharing…
Disclaimer: No money, goods or tickets have been given in exchange for this article. All opinions expressed are my own. If you would like me to review any product, place or thing, please get in touch…